Speed Reads

Mr. Speaker

Kevin McCarthy elected House speaker following raucous debate proceedings

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was elected speaker of the House of Representatives just past midnight on Saturday morning, finally garnering enough votes on the 15th ballot following a period of heated and at times physically charged in-fighting within the Republican Party. 

The election process, which began this past Tuesday, marked the first time in a century that the majority party was unable to elect a speaker on the first ballot. While McCarthy had previously been seen as a shoo-in for the job, the GOP's underwhelming performance during the midterm elections cast a shadow over his ability to helm his side of the aisle. 

Despite McCarthy always having a large majority of the Republican votes, a number of notable holdouts, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) had stifled the California representative's bid to claim the gavel. It seemed that McCarthy kept losing again, and again, and again, until he began to offer concessions during a series of behind-the-scenes negotiations with his opponents. 

The New York Times reported that former President Donald Trump personally called a number of the holdouts following McCarthy's 14th loss. Whether this played a significant role in getting members to change their votes is unclear, though at least one member was seen brushing the phone away as it was handed to him.

During his first address following his election, McCarthy said, "Now the hard work begins," pledging to open investigations into President Biden and the Democratic Party. 

The week-long debate, though, has cast doubt among some analysts over the ability of the GOP to effectively govern. At one point, the in-fighting between the party nearly got physical, with Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) seemingly having to be held back from attacking Gaetz after the latter's 14th vote against McCarthy.